“While we were both sent home from school and spent most of our time indoors, we at least were able to contact friends through video calls,” they said. “However, we noticed that many older adults and senior citizens in our area didn’t have the luxury of having extended networks of friends and family to support them, which could be lonely and isolating during the pandemic. Many seniors didn’t have much experience with digital technologies like Zoom, which became very popular during the pandemic, making communication even more difficult for them.”
Through weekly visits to senior living homes, the project teaches interactive lessons encouraging healthy nutrition and improving digital literacy, while fostering sustained intergenerational relationships.
The mission: to nourish health, the mind and relationships.
The organization fulfills its mission through three key areas: encouraging regular exercise and healthy nutrition; improving digital and technological literacy; and fostering sustained intergenerational relationships.
The brothers said they have been fortunate to recruit many volunteers to help with senior center visits. They have recruited volunteers for multiple chapters across five states and are hoping to expand even more in the near future.
The project’s team consists of students from Yale College, Harvard College and Cornell University.
The team designs The Nourish Project curriculum, facilitates new partnerships, and recruits and trains volunteers so they can nourish the elderly in communities.
Currently, Rishi Shah is an undergraduate student at Yale, where he studies applied mathematics and biology.
Kavya Shah is a graduate student at the University of Cambridge, where he studies computational biology.
“During the pandemic, we largely interacted with senior centers that had digital technologies on-site, which limited the amount of social interaction and connection that we were able to foster,” they said. “Since pandemic regulations have eased, we have been able to physically visit senior centers, which has been a very rewarding experience.”
So far, the project has helped more than 100 seniors in the community.
Currently, the Shahs are working toward two main goals.
“First, we are focused on expanding our organization by starting chapters at universities across the country,” they said. “We are recruiting fellow college students who are interested in giving back to their communities and serving the elderly. Second, we are continually improving our curriculum program that we have developed for our partner senior center facilities. By administering pre- and post-program surveys to our participants, we can pinpoint strategies we can use to make the project an even more enjoyable experience.”
In the future, Kavya and Rishi Shah hope to continue growing the project and establishing the program as a community service organization everyone can participate in as a volunteer.
Their goal is to continue forging intergenerational friendships in the local communities, which they said can be rewarding for both volunteers and participants.
Both Kavya and Rishi Shah plan to go to medical school and become doctors in the future.
“We are fueled by our shared drive to improve human health,” the brothers said. “While we are not yet doctors, we always try to look for ways to make people happier and alleviate pain in any way we can. We both love tackling complex issues and working together, so The Nourish Project is the perfect avenue for merging our interests in a fun, collaborative way.”
News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.